Our darling little four year old is officially old enough to participate in team sports and in Mebane (and Elderland) that means she now plays soccer. It’s curious how at this age to “play” a sport actually follows the most commonly intended use of the word which is to engage in something for amusement or recreation, because even though the Mebane Youth Soccer Association (MYSA) is formally known as a recreation league, there’s an age at which things become a bit more, shall we say, serious? I suppose at some point in anyone’s sporting career the decision is made as to whether or not playing has played its course and the time has come to move on, and those that stay are still dubbed players, but the essence of playing loses at least some of its amusement. But she’s four! So it’s totally all about fun! Pause here to quote our darling little four year old from a moment about ten minutes into her first ever soccer practice at a resting point between drills, “when are we going to play real soccer? I don’t want to play fake soccer anymore!”
Our first experience with MYSA came about eight or so years ago when in our flurry of social-circle-building over-joining, Pete decided to volunteer as a coach. The reaction from the league tended to be one of confused appreciation – you don’t have kids and you’re not a retiree and you want to give some of your time to coaching a bunch of four and five year olds? I mean, YAY THANKS! – but at least they didn’t suspect him of being strange. For the next several seasons he stayed on, ultimately sponsoring a team himself, and only reluctantly resigning when having our own kids became the reason for eschewing a number of activities (the irony). As we approached the age at which Norah could sign up, it was agreed upon, for a number of reasons, that Pete would remain on the sidelines and let others take the lead in forging her path toward stardom. Then we forgot to sign up. Then she was wait-listed. Then the league was short coaches. And here we are… Pete Elder, coming out of retirement like Urban Meyer post breakdown, to once again coach an adorable lineup of little ones. A former soccer jock himself, and a general lover of all things sporty, despite our previous agreement, I think he’s pretty pleased about it.
Norah thus far seems to love it. It’s new, it’s exciting, it’s outside, and it involves dressing up in shinguards, unusually tall socks, and super special soccer shoes. Be it this or something else, I do hope she holds on to her passion for participating, because there are so many benefits to being involved in sports. And though there’s the small part of me that fears our future full of extra-curricular activities and what that means for our already frenzied family life – especially when I listen to my lovely friends describe their weekends by first noting the number of soccer events they attended – I want our kids to have a wealth of experiences, to be healthy and happy, to make memories and learn lessons, and to have and do and feel all the things that make up living.